“Stillwater Strong, Loyal and True”
Inspired by a brief meeting with Rosa Parks and by members of his Stillwater, Okla. community D. Scott Petty (Oklahoma State University, 1987), wanted to support a tribute to the victims and families from the 2015 Oklahoma State University Homecoming Parade tragedy. He wrote the book “Stillwater Strong, Loyal and True” to help raise funds to build a Stillwater Strong Memorial.
In the book, Petty offers a detailed account of events occurring before, during and after a woman drove her vehicle into the crowd of parade spectators on Oct. 24, 2015, killing four people and wounding more than 50 others.
“I felt like writing down the stories of some [of the] first responders, eyewitnesses and survivors, while expressing thanks for all of the positive things that happened afterwards, could help our community, our university and those survivors heal,” Petty said.
Petty has raised approximately $5,000 so far from the sales of the book. He plans to continue donating 100 percent of the book profits to benefit underfunded Stillwater medical and community needs as long as the book is selling.
As executive director for the Stillwater Medical Foundation, Petty also directed the Stillwater Strong Fund campaign that received almost $500,000 in donations in two months to help pay the medical expenses and other financial needs of victims after the tragedy. The single largest gift given to the Stillwater Strong Fund was from a student-led fundraising effort and exceeded $80,000. He became acquainted with most of the victims and their families through the process of distributing these funds.
The Stillwater Strong Memorial will be dedicated on Oct. 26, 2018. It will have four black granite tiles mounted on the base below the orange and blue ribbon. Each of the four tiles will have a photograph of the four victims who passed that will be laser-etched into the surface of the tile along with a brief description of their lives. There is a fifth tile not shown in this image that will be on a separate pedestal base describing the purpose of the memorial and the dedication date.
“As I interviewed over 50 individuals, it became increasingly apparent just how truly grateful these families were for the support and generosity of our community, our university family and strangers most of the recipients never met,” Petty said.
As an undergraduate, Petty was “Pistol Pete,” the mascot for Oklahoma State University, and he was in the Homecoming Parade in 1985 and 1986. As the years have passed, he has been in the parade almost annually for nearly 35 years as part of the Pistol Pete Alumni float. He was on the Pistol Pete float in the 2015 Homecoming Parade but didn’t see the crash. After the parade tragedy occurred, Petty went to the hospital to help the victims, their families and friends in a supporting role.
“I felt compelled to share these stories in an effort to inspire citizens to give their time,” Petty said. “In 1993, I had a chance meeting with Rosa Parks. We spoke in a reception line for only a matter of seconds. In that exchange, I thanked her for what she has meant to our country and our society. In her response, she simply said, ‘You know, people just have to do the right thing.’”
The Stillwater Strong Memorial will be built near the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Main Street close to where the tragedy occurred. Approximately $75,000 of the original $100,000 Stillwater Strong Memorial goal has been secured so far from various community efforts. Due to the generous donation of professional services, materials and landscaping, current costs for the memorial are coming in under the $100,000 goal.
Memorial construction started in July 2018 and it should be completed in early October. The Stillwater Strong Memorial will be dedicated at 5 p.m. on Oct. 26, 2018. Some of the family members of the victims, survivors injured in the crash and first responders that helped on the scene have made plans to attend the dedication.
For information and to purchase the “Stillwater Strong, Loyal and True” book, visit www.stillwaterstrong.org.